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Central Texas Local News | kcentv.com

When does the Army declare an AWOL soldier a deserter?

The family of Gregory Morales created a petition in hopes that more can be done before a soldier is classified as AWOL and later as a deserter.

FORT HOOD, Texas — The family of Gregory Wedel-Morales created a Whitehouse.gov petition asking that a change in military protocol to not assume that a soldier has gone AWOL when they don’t show up for formation. 

The petition states:

"Gregory has been missing since August 19, 2019. His family and friends are desperate for information on his location. The Army has authorized up to $15000 for information that leads to his whereabouts. What we really need is a change in military protocol to not assume that a soldier has gone AWOL when they don’t show up for formation. They need to protect their soldier by looking for them immediately so that leads don’t go cold."

Gregory Morales was classified as a deserter as of September 19, 2019. 

But just how does the Army go about labeling a soldier a deserter. The answer can be found in Army Regulation 630–10 and Department of the Army Pamphlet 600–8

When a soldier goes missing from a unit, the unit is tasked with conducting an investigation to determine Soldier’s status. That unit files the paperwork indicating a soldier is absent without leave or AWOL. Within 24 hours of the soldier going missing, the unit must report it to the local Provost Marshal.

After 10 days, the unit mails a standardized letter to the soldiers next of kin. 

After 30 days, the unit prepares paperwork reporting the soldier as a deserter and sends it up the chain of command. The unit also mails another letter to the next of kin. The paperwork is reviewed for accuracy by the local Provost Marshal. 

The procedure is different if the soldier goes missing at a reception station, in transit, or in another situation.  

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